History of the Bay Area Glass Institute
The Bay Area Glass Institute, affectionately known as BAGI, was founded by four San Jose State University (SJSU) students in 1996: Mike Binnard, Bobby Bowes, Mariko Takada, and Jonathan Tepperman.
No longer students at SJSU, the founders of BAGI needed a hot-shop to work in. The first BAGI hot-shop was located in Bobby Bowes' backyard/garage. It was the founders' collective idea to create a glassblowing studio that they could rent out as well as to serve as a gathering place for fellow glass artists.
They soon realized that they needed to expand their efforts of having a fully operational glass blowing facility that the public would benefit from as well. With this realization came the creation of the now popular Great Glass Pumpkin Patch. The first Great Glass Pumpkin Patch(R) was held at the Palo Alto Art Center (PAAC) where a group of glass artists sold their hand-crafted glass pumpkins. While the event generated income for the studio... it more importantly generated public interest in art glass and BAGI's role as a leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit Bay Area Glass Art Education facility.
All these years later, BAGI, the Palo Alto Art Center and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation are still the original Great Glass Pumpkin Patch's organizers. This event is a well-loved Bay Area favorite, and a tradition, for many. It takes place in the fall with a week-long exhibition and weekend glass sale where thousands of patrons buy beautiful glass pumpkins.
Why create a glass art institute? In addition to being an affordable work space for local glass blowers, fusers and torch workers, it's also a public education facility. The goal is to provide a way for the public to become familiar with fine art glass and the processes used to make it. In addition, BAGI supports established local artists as well as beginning level students in their efforts to further their glass working careers and/or journeys.